News & Events
#020 – Preparing For Podcasting
- 29th November 2017
- Posted by: Nicky
- Category: Episodes
Today we’re going to give you a quick guide to podcasting and on how to set up a podcast channel. So Liz why are we talking about this today?
Well, I was at a networking event last week and interestingly I was talking to someone about our podcast and she mentioned that she’d been interested in doing one but had decided not to do so as it was so expensive. So I went on to explain how podcasting isn’t costly, which is one reason why we got into it in the first place. But I did have to explain how time heavy it is, so I thought it would be good to give listeners a quick start guide to running a podcast and the tools we’ve discovered along the way.
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©The Marketing Menu 2017. All rights reserved.
Yes, I suppose we should say this is not a definitive guide as obviously other people will have other recommendations but hopefully, these signposts will help other people to get ahead just a little bit faster.
Yes, so first off here’s a few figures, Nicky, which may interest you:
- Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016
- Around 21% of Americans (aged 12 and upwards) have listened to a podcast in the last month – about the same as were active on Twitter (important to say here that your podcast could be heard beyond the UK)
- Weekly podcast listeners consume five shows a week on average
So I guess we’re saying if you want to promote your business or brand, you need to think beyond traditional PR.
Yes, it’s a good tool to have although I think to be honest the UK has yet to catch up with some of those stats but it certainly is a growing phenomenon.
So let’s get into today’s episode which is all about the challenges of setting up a podcast. If you’ve ever thought about it, here is a quick overview of some of the tools and the things you need to think about.
Now, we will be offering a cheat sheet – so if you’d like to get your hands on one, do pop over to our website www.themarketingmenu.com/episode/guide-to-podcasting to download your copy. Please don’t pop over there just yet without listening to the rest of this podcast as we’re painting the bigger picture and will be going into more detail than we’ve outlined on the cheat sheet.
So, in true Marketing Menu style, we’re going to go through this step-by-step. If you’ve ever thought about podcasting or if you’re podcasting now and are curious as to how we do it, that’s what this episode is all about.
The last thing we’ll say before we jump in is that we love planning what we’re going to talk about so if you have listened to previous podcasts, you will know that we say it all starts with a plan. So, before you dive into podcasting, as with any other, you do need to spend a decent amount of time thinking about your subject, your audience, how often you are going to produce content, who is responsible for what, and designing a content calendar. If you need to think about these areas, it’s probably a good idea to head over to Podcast 004 “What makes your customer tick” which will offer great insights on how to get you started.
Yes, before you rush into things, it’s important to keep in mind that podcasts take a lot of effort to get going. You treat podcasting the same way you would any other big project: Podcasting is great fun but there is one thing you must do before you start podcasting: Commit. You must internally commit to podcasting.
I guess it’s easy to assume that podcasts are easy to produce because they’re audio only, but don’t be fooled. They can take up a lot of time to put together, especially at first. Also, podcasts do best when they’re released consistently. If you’re interested in developing any kind of listener base, you have to release episodes regularly. All in all, podcasting can be fun work, but it’s still work and should be treated as such when planning your marketing activity.
This is so true. And I think it’s fair to say we underestimated how much time each podcast would take when we first started. So Nicky what’s the structure here then?
Well, I think we need to break it down into categories those being Content, Roles, Equipment, and Platforms.
Good idea! So, on to the steps. First, we have to develop the content. When we started, we made sure we’d nailed the first 12 episodes we wanted to cover, we knew we could adapt them but we also wanted to plan a considered agenda so that we took listeners on an initial journey through several subjects, I’d certainly recommend others do the same. However, that done, we now select topics based on listener results and feedback, and we also watch what’s trending on social media and online marketing. Our last episode was an example of this when we talked about designing a social media policy which was prompted by the announcement of Twitter’s introduction of the 280-character limit rollout.
We also think about where our audience is right now and what they may need, together with our own experiences of new things we’ve been learning in our business. We also always think WIFM which is ‘what’s in it for me’, or rather them, and whether or not listeners will be interested. Sometimes, obviously only time will tell, but once you start picking up some listeners, you can drill down into the interests by seeing what episodes are failsafes or those that take a longer time to pick up, but the WIFM model is hugely important across all your marketing otherwise you risk wasting time in the wrong places.
Of course, as you become more established. you can reach out to others and feature them on your channel to provide varied content for your listeners. Then you need to look for:
- Someone who can provide great content for your audience.
- Someone who has an established online presence in the form of a blog, vlog, podcast and/or has written a book. Not only does this mean they have an existing audience they can share our podcast interview with, it also means we can serve listeners by directing them towards more useful content. I’m thinking back to Jake Moore from Dorset Police Cyber Security team here when we ran Podcast 017 about Cyber Security.
Once we’ve decided what the subject will be, we try to base it around three areas don’t we Nicky; one the introduction, then the core messages, then the recap and key pointers for people to take away. We then have some semi stock paragraphs that we include as standard which point out that we have a transcript online, that talk about our other social media channels, that ask people for reviews and how to do so, or talk about how we’re offering a free download if that’s what we’re doing that week.
It’s worth saying here that we did research this and it’s quite standard to do these things during a podcast. It’s about repeating the key information.
Free downloads – now perhaps we should expand on that. Because the benefit of these is twofold isn’t it. One we’re adding value for free and secondly, we’re also able to capture peoples email details.
Yes, of course, this is a contentious subject and one we’re going to have to be particularly mindful of when it comes to opt-ins and the new regulations on GDPR.
Yes, more on that later listeners.
But downloads do enable you to offer this added content and then build your email list but they obviously do add a whole heap of extra work, so plan when you’re going to do this and how often when you come to develop your content calendar and again remember the WIFM, is it adding anything extra?
So once we’ve got the bare bones and added in all the bits and bobs, what comes next?
Well, obviously you have to research the subject and then unless you’re going to be really brave and you’re going to speak freefall with just bullet points as a guide, we always recommend having a script. Now obviously this can be as rigid as you feel comfortable with but when starting out, I’d really recommend you do this. Obviously, this does make content creation longer but then again it’s going to speed up the recording element because you’re not making up as you go along.
And then again, if you’re talking facts and figures, you don’t want to forget bits and pieces, get them wrong or miss out valuable bits so I think it makes sense to write it all down.
There is, of course. an added benefit to doing this and that’s when it comes to posting your podcast, you then have a ready-made transcript and this can help with keywords and actually being found online. Although you don’t have to produce a transcript at all, it’s good practice.
Yes, and we have listeners, don’t we, that due to time commitments, or because they work in an open office who literally read the transcripts without tuning in, so I think they’re of great value.
That’s what we’ve been told! Back to the content planning. Of course, you’re always going to have to know what you’re going to talk about next because in your closing remarks, it’s a good idea to introduce your next podcast subject and then I guess depending on how often you’re going to actually record your episodes, perhaps your going to produce several at the same time or maybe you’re going to just do one at a time, but you need to know what comes next to make it relevant.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to think about roles. As there are two of us, we tend to divvy up subjects according to our strengths. If we’re interviewing someone, we need them to have an idea of how long they are expected to talk and what our questions may be beforehand. So we develop a mini plan.
Perhaps we should add if we’re interviewing someone, we obviously won’t have that all-important transcript so you’ve used fiverr.com haven’t you Liz as a very cost-effective way of building the transcript from the audio file.
Yes, Fiverr! You can find people who will transcribe the audio – great service with a very quick turnaround. I’d certainly recommend it.
Ok, so back to roles. What we really mean here is it’s ok to ask for help.
I guess we’re lucky in so far as I have experience designing websites and artwork so if you love the idea of starting a podcast but don’t know how to manage your own website so that you can embed your podcast onto it, or you don’t know how to create great image files or know how to market yourself, then you are going to have to get help.
Yes, of course, well although we’ve learned an immense amount of stuff, I guess our comfort blanket came off when it came to recording and editing our shows. So for that, we use Andrew, our brilliant audiologist, who records, edits and tags our mp3 files so that we can upload them ourselves. Although we now do our own recordings for our training platform we still do use Andrew, bless him he puts up with a lot, to produce our content. We have also used our graphic designer Mary for our mini me’s which we now use in our artwork to promote the episodes.
So I guess overall we’re saying you can’t pick it all up at once, so please do reach out to others if you feel you need help in a particular area.
This also leads nicely on to the equipment which is step three. But, before we do that, as this is another important lesson we learned, it’s time to remind listeners that they are listening to The Marketing Menu and can download our podcasts for free from iTunes, Blubrry, Stitcher, and TuneIn.
Yes indeed, it’s a good idea and quite usual to give listeners a reminder and share details of platforms and website or maybe give a summary of what has been said so far. You can also download our podcasts from our website themarketingmenu.com and you can find us on Twitter & Facebook posting all sorts of marketing tips and tricks to help build your business.
So, back to equipment, Nicky.
Now, this is a bit of grey area because, obviously, every podcaster will have their own favourites for Recording and Editing. That said though, the equipment bit really isn’t that big or necessarily that costly. You can spend a fortune but we use Andrew, as we say, for the majority of our podcast material because he already has the necessary equipment but if you’re not lucky to have an Andrew, or if you want to create content on the fly, you are going to need three basic things.
A decent microphone, the software, and an interface or USB microphone that will talk to the software, and it’s way simpler than you might think.
Yes, any Windows computer or Mac should work fine to record, edit, and upload your podcast. Thankfully, editing audio doesn’t take a ton of computing power. Additionally, depending on how you choose to record—directly to the computer or onto a dedicated recording device—your computer will also need the right ports. USB microphones, for example, will obviously need an open USB port. If you’re using analogue microphones with a portable recorder or audio interface device, you’ll also need either a 3.5 mm audio-in jack, a USB port, or in some cases, a Firewire port. So before you spend any money check this out.
For the actual recording and editing, you’ll need Audio Editing Software. There are a lot of good options out there, but the licenses for some of them can be costly. Professional licenses can cost several hundred pounds although one you may like to consider is Adobe’s audio editing software Audition CC which is available with a £19.97 monthly subscription, but you probably shouldn’t start dumping money into podcasting software if you’re just starting out. Because of that, most people recommend free open source programs like Audacity when you’re just getting started. Software is probably the biggest decision you’re going to make and for that you will need to consider whether you’re a Macintosh user or an iOS user. If you’re on iOS we’d also recommend checking GarageBand which is free to Apple users.
When it comes to microphones, USB mics are a cheaper option. We have put several recommendations on our cheat sheet but you should be able to get a decent one for around £150 although you can spend a lot more. USB mics convert analogue sound into digital so you can plug a USB mic directly into any computer and start recording without much hassle, but you could potentially get lower audio quality compared to analogue. Considering you don’t need any extra tools or devices to record with a USB mic, they can be a little cheaper in the long run. Analog microphones use XLR connectors, which means you need another device to get your audio onto your computer, but you can get higher audio quality and can use them with other sound equipment (if you had a PA system or wanted to play live music, for example). Interestingly when recording our training, we use Apple earbuds which work brilliantly but, of course, this does not help if there are two or more of you.
Liz, of course, the thing to consider is the room you are going to record in.
Yes, we’ve found that to our cost. haven’t we? So listeners, if you’re planning to record in a fairly bare or large room, perhaps with no carpets or curtains, you are going to find it necessary to think about soundproofing. There are heaps of wall mountable sound absorbers you can buy but when you’re just starting out perhaps think of using a small room with decent soft furnishings that will absorb some of the throwback that you can easily pick up from the background.
Pop Filters are also useful to combat some of this as the clearer your audio can sound, the better. Pop filters are fairly cheap too.
The other thing you’re probably going to want to consider is the production of some theme Music. Writing and recording your own theme music is incredibly difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing so check out free tunes at places like the Free Music Archive or Vimeo’s Music Store
Use sites that offer music under an Attribution International License or Attribution-Non-commercial International License like freemusicarchive.org. Or there are loads of subscription services like Audioblocks.
It might take a while to find exactly what you want, but when you do, all you have to do is credit the creator in your podcast description. Alternatively, pay for something and check the license and then all you need to do it get someone to do a bit of a voiceover. Then you need to save this as a separate clip so that you can add it to future shows.
When it comes to recording each episode, although we’re only talking for around 15 minutes, each one probably takes in the region of an hour. That’s because sometimes we’ll mess up and Andrew needs to do a bit of editing and then he will:
- Edit out any major gaps in the conversation to ensure the conversation flows smoothly.
- Enhance audio-production, including vocal balancing, vocal compression, noise reduction, hiss/hum removal, and equalisation.
- Mix in any intros or outros.
- Mix down to -16 LUFS audio standard.
- And then convert to high-quality MP3 for use to upload to our platform.
Wow, there’s so much to think about here and we haven’t even got into the platforms yet!
Yep scary huh?
So, when you’ve finished creating your podcast, it’s time to find a place to host the MP3 file. Now let’s be honest, there are heaps of platforms out there and we have not tested them all so here are three to be getting on with. Listeners, you will have to do your own research and choose which one you feel will work for you.
But having your podcast hosted is essential so you can start distributing your show to podcast directories and apps via RSS feed. Here are three suggestions as options for beginners:
Soundcloud offers free podcast hosting (in addition to two competitive paid options for when you get a little more serious) and lets you distribute your podcast via RSS.
Libsyn is one of the oldest dedicated podcast hosting sites and considered to be one of the best.
Amazon S3: Amazon’s hosting service offers a free plan, but limits your storage, meaning the cost can go up as your podcast grows in popularity.
But our personal recommendation is for Blubrry, especially if you are running your website on WordPress. Blubrry has a brilliant plugin called Powerpress which also allows you to do your own SEO, you don’t need to produce tags as with some other software and it links via an RSS feed to iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn. Given that most small businesses are running their sites on WordPress, this may be a good fit for you. Plus you are then available on 4 channels.
Many hosts provide a start-up trail so when you find one you like, it’s worth paying for hosting if you’re serious about continuing your podcast.
And finally, before we finish with platforms, as we previously mentioned, you have to produce a strong podcast title and create some cover art.
So when it comes to people finding your podcast, the name you choose for it is important. Try to pick a name that communicates to your audience exactly what your podcast will be about.
You’ll also need an image for your podcast. This is the first thing people will see when they come across your show, so it should look good. An image is also required in order to list your podcast in directories.
So, as Nicky said, you’re also going to need some cover art, which can be a photo or piece of custom artwork. Make sure your image conveys what your show is really about as best it can and ensure the show’s title is on the image. If you’re not comfortable making the image yourself, don’t be afraid to hire a designer to do it for you.
Podcast images need to be certain sizes as well, otherwise your artwork won’t look as good when it’s shrunken down. In fact, some directories won’t even accept podcast feeds if your art isn’t sized appropriately. There’s more information on our Cheat Sheet which as we mentioned you can download by hopping over to themarketingmenu.com/episodes/
So let’s just close with a quick recap and an overview of what we have each personally discovered on this journey, I fear some of this may have put listeners off so let’s make it seem a little less daunting.
Well, I’d say if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build influence, grow your email list, social media followers – and your business – by getting top-notch media coverage, I think you’ll love it. I’ve learned an awful lot – particularly about myself – to begin with, I worried about not having a good enough radio voice, being able to match the quality of some professional podcasters, create interesting enough content…you name it, I worried about it. It was only when I accepted I wasn’t going to get it absolutely perfect first time around – and started to feel ok with that – I felt able to move forward.
I’d add that you know more than you think you do. Always remember you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you already have a blog or are publishing things on LinkedIn or social media, you can use that content. We already had plenty of content in the form of blog posts, webinars, keynotes, training materials and social media updates that could be repurposed. So, take some of the most popular and turn them into a podcast.
Finally, I’d add podcasting is all about creating a community, something we have only just begun which is where we probably need to ask for our listeners help, yes you dear listener. If you have like what we’ve shared today it would be really good if you could post your review online. We know there are loads of podcasts and webinars out there and we’ve specifically designed The Marketing Menu to offer practical, accessible marketing ideas that you can put into practice.
Just to remind you we publish our podcasts every two weeks on a Wednesday and, of course, we’re here to tailor the content to your needs so if you’ve any questions, please do get in touch. We very much hope that some of what we’ve shared today resonates with you and allows you to make real business changes. Let us know how you get on if you decide to enter into the world of podcasting.
So, Liz, I think that concludes what is surely our longest podcast to date but I think you’ll agree there was an enormous amount to cover here?
Yes, there certainly was phew! So tune in again everybody to our next podcast when we’ll be discussing how to use video to enhance your social media marketing. So, it’s a goodbye from me, Liz, til next time.
And me, Nicky, goodbye.
©The Marketing Menu 2017. All rights reserved.